Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Really Listen

I was irritable today.  I feel sickness creeping in.  My boys have both been under the weather and I feel that familiar tingle in my throat.  My energy is low and my eyes aren't clear.  I have a million things to do and I have a voice over job tomorrow, so I definitely can't get a cold, or a sore throat.  Anyway, I was irritable.  My boys, who are struggling with the same thing, minus the adult responsibilities, were irritable.  They were at each other's throats all day and my ability to be patient with such behavior was very low.  Not to mention, because they were sickish, they were breathing heavy through their mouths all day, eating loud, sniffing, snuffling, snorting and trying to get them to use a tissue was near impossible.  I found myself giving a lot of reminders to River in particular.  Isn't it fun being the oldest child?  I should know.  Most everything that came out of my mouth was a criticism.  Wash your hands, don't touch your nose, I asked you to use a tissue, try eating quieter.  The more I said, the clingier he became and the more irritable I became.  I used the word please and I told myself, it's my job to teach him manners, but really, looking back, my tone was not kind and I was acutely tuned into any noise he was making.  I really didn't notice anything amiss.  We weren't having screaming matches.  He huffed and puffed and rolled his eyes a few times, but that was it.  At the end of the night, I heard him say under his breath, "You didn't like me all day."  At first I was annoyed by this too.  I mean, I bend over backwards for these kids.  My days revolve around caring for them and coming up with interesting, creative activities for them to do.  It's not fair that I'm not allowed to correct something that needs to be corrected, without being perceived as a bad guy.  I'm not sure why I didn't start the spiel, but instead I realized it doesn't matter that he knows I love him, if he doesn't feel loved and I don't feel loved if someone is correcting me all day long.  In fact, that is probably one of the things I hate the most.  How could he possibly feel loved?  So, instead, I pulled him in for a tight hug.  Holding him heart to heart, I whispered in his ear how much I love him.  That he made me a mom and everything I am is because of him.  Nothing could ever change that.  I love him forever and always, no matter what.  I told him I was sick and I said I was sorry if I wasn't a good mom to him today and I promised I would do better tomorrow.  Then I held him while he cried and said thank you and that he loved me too and that he was so glad to know.  I held him until he let go first.  The poor guy hugged me for a long time.  His love tank must have been pretty low, but when he pulled away he was smiling through the tears and the sparkle was back in his eyes.  I can't tell you how glad I am that a small part of my spirit heard his comment and not just my tired, sickly self.  I'm immensely grateful I really heard him and answered with love.  I loathe the common marital advice... never go to bed angry with each other.  There is nothing more toxic than two tired, hurt humans battling it out on no sleep, each convinced they are in the right.  However, when it comes to my kids... I hope I never let them go to bed without feeling loved.  I'm sure there will be lots of nights when they go to bed mad at me, but I hope I can pause long enough to make sure it's just surface mad and it is not from feeling unloved that day.  Thank goodness for second chances and the forgiving spirit of children.